The Oaks Ignore Their Pleas

Beware – Con Artists Work in the Virtual World, Too

Posted in General, Second Life by Jeff Graves on September 2, 2006

Courtesy of Csven Johnson’s reBang blog, comes this story from CNet news about the growing phenomena of con artist schemes targeting virtual currencies, in this case, in the world of Eve Online.  Because there a really no “laws” to speak of within most virtual worlds, and no real justice system, there’s really very little that can happen to someone who perpetrates a con which results in innocent people losing their hard-earned virtual money.  Sooner or later, it seems likely that someone is going to take their virtual world beef into the real world justice system, and we’ll see a lawsuit seeking compensation in real world dollars (or Euros, or Krona, or Won).

As with anything virtual, there are going to be people who feel that a real world intrusion of law and order is just that – an intrusion into a world that’s supposed to be free of real world influences.  In fact, the CNet article ends with quote from a player who feels the “wild west” nature of the virtual world should remain intact:

 “The frontier regions of western movies are long gone in our world but they found a last refuge in this game,” said “Eve” player Martin Wöhrer. “(‘Eve Online’ is) a place where bullets don’t really kill and all that is hurt is your ego. But then again, you might walk away with a lesson learned.”

I think it’s just a matter of time before the real world intrudes on virtual world crime, as least where money is involved.  Sure, maybe there will be virtual worlds that are by design free from outside legal intrusion.  But in a world like Second Life, for example, where residents are free to do and create anything they like, and real world companies are free to enter and participate in the world, eventually, the rule of real world law will come a knockin’, for better or worse.

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